It’s time to go back to the bookshelf for another selection of reading material. In this post we will look at the Official Guide to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
You could buy the expensive hardcover edition or this little paperback one. Most people would have bought this smaller version to carry around the Exhibition as it had many maps to direct visitors, as well as a brief synopsis of each Pavilion and… a list of where the bathrooms were!
You may remember that this particular World’s Fair is significant because Walt Disney and his Imagineers had a hand in designing quite a few of the Pavilions. Such as Progressland for General Electric where you could find the Carousel of Progress, the Ford Magic Skyway for the Ford Motor Company, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln for the Illinois Pavillion, and of course “It’s a Small World” for Pepsi.
Many might forget that Rolly Crump also built a colorful kinetic sculpture called The Tower of the Four Winds, which stood right outside the Pepsi Pavilion and the entrance to “It’s a Small World”. Only this tower and the complete Ford Magic Skyway failed to make it back to Disneyland.
As mentioned, this book would have been used as a planner to navigate the Fair. You can see the pen marks of the original owner showing either what they planned to see or what they actually did see. Considering the size of the Fair, I think they did quite well to do and see what they did!
Now let’s have a look at some of the Disney-created attractions, along with a few other interesting offerings:
This afforded a journey through time aboard the new Ford Mustang narrated by Walt Disney himself. You would see dinosaurs which would later be placed in the Primeval World diorama in the Disneyland Railroad. The mammoth in the caveman scene was redesigned and placed into the elephant area in the Jungle Cruise attraction in Anaheim.
I include this Pavilion attraction because it’s sponsored by Sinclair fuels which you may recognize as the inspiration for Dinoco found in the Pixar movie CARS.
Why dinosaurs were such a popular draw back in the early 60s we may never know, but as you can see in the image above, the little ones sure herded to meet them!
FUN FACT: The Sinclair family in the Disney/Henson 1991-94 television series Dinosaurs is named after this company, because of its dinosaur logo.
Back to Disney-built attractions, we have the “delightful Carousel of Progress – where the audience moves and electronic figures enact a warm, whimsical play in the wonderful Walt Disney style.” The Carousel was moved to Disneyland (1967-73) and then on to Walt Disney World in 1975, where it still resides. This page also shows the other features of the Pavilion. Most don’t realize that all of the Pavilions that hired Disney to supply content also had other, perhaps equally interesting, things as well.
Using 360 degree wrap-around movie screens to show panoramic pictures wasn’t new for the 64-65 World’s Fair. Walt Disney had dabbled with a similar process with the film ‘America the Beautiful’ in 1955. He would modify the system and name it Circle-Vision in 1967. This iteration had 9 projectors using 35mm film. It is used for a few attractions at Disney theme parks, such as Epcot’s ‘O Canada!’ film, ‘Reflections of China’ in the same Park, and at Disneyland’s defunct ‘America the Beautiful’ from 1967.
It’s surprising that Walt didn’t decide to use this technology for any of the attractions he developed for the World’s Fair.
Once again, back to the Disney attractions. Above, you can see some stills from the ‘It’s a Small World’ boat ride in the Pepsi Pavilion. This ride was also moved to Disneyland after the Fair closed and has since been replicated in almost every other Disney Park worldwide. And note the Tower of the Four Winds standing to the right in the bottom right picture above.
Being as Disney has a large presence in Florida now, if not so much in 1964-65, I thought I’d include what this State was offering for the World’s Fair. A Porpoise show. Orange juice. And a beverage known as a Snow Crop? To understand the real magic of that drink, I guess you’ll have to go to Florida!
Now let’s have a look at the only mention in the book about the last attraction designed by Walt Disney – Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln:
When you’re proud of your Native Son, you’re proud, and that’s that! No picture of the attraction was shown in the book, perhaps to preserve the wonder of seeing him ‘come to life’ before your eyes. The prairie President ended up in Disneyland where he continues to recite ‘for the people’ in the Opera House on Main Street U.S.A. The previous hydraulic-based audio-animatronic figure was replaced by an electronic one, which Disney Imagineers say greatly extends Lincoln’s emotive capabilities. So you both can and can’t see the original show.
Want to take more of the memories home with you? For only $2.50 you could own a hardcover copy of the Official Souvenir Book by Time-Life Books Inc.
In a side note, when I was visiting The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, I found the display pictured below:
Souvenir cups, Martin Luther King Jr. enjoying Ford’s Magic Skyway, and more informative booklets – there certainly was a lot going on at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair!
There was also an interesting story about another attraction that traveled ‘down the road’ after the Fair was over:
You can get a sense of the size of this Ferris Wheel from the picture above. Constructed by US Rubber Products it was eventually installed, minus seats, along I-94 near The Henry Ford in 1966. Where is it now? Rolled off into history, I expect!
So while not an exhaustive flip through the pages of this little keepsake, I think we have looked at enough to know that we younger folk missed a great show! But at least we can still see and enjoy some of its main attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World today.